OTTAWA — Two giants in the area of dispute resolution are joining forces.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has made select branch personnel from its Perishable Agriculture Commodities Act available to members of the Dispute Resolution Corp. for arbitration and mediation purposes.

PACA, based in Washington, D.C., has five branch offices with a total of nine regional directors and assistant regional directors in Arizona, Illinois, Texas, New Jersey and Virginia.

Fred Webber, manager of the DRC’s trading assistance office in Chicago, said the list of available arbitrators would probably be limited to the senior branch officers, which would mean about five people.

This agreement means that PACA itself has been added to the list of arbitrators, or neutrals, available to the DRC. If both parties involved in a dispute agree to use PACA as an arbitrator, then PACA will advise the parties as to which of its personnel is available and is best equipped to handle the situation.

Once that decision is made, however, both parties still have the right to refuse the chosen arbitrator.

PACA personnel will be available on a fee-for-service basis and will provide services based on the rules and procedures of the DRC.

“PACA will be treated in exactly the same way as the other arbitrators,” Webber said.

Webber, who is also vice president of special services for the Produce Reporter Co./Blue Book Credit Services, said having PACA on the list presents a unique opportunity for the DRC, as the corporation was founded in part based on PACA rules.

“They bring a lot of credibility to the table,” he said.